Our Fear of Vulnerability

Liberty

Photo: Nevit Dilmen (CC)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

For a country that prides itself on its freedoms, we’ve systematically begun to dismantle them in favor of a perceived sense of safety. We have the largest, most powerful military in the world. Our surveillance systems and police technologies are state of the art. We have more law enforcement agencies than acronyms available.

Yet, for all the measures in place to make us feel safe, we live our lives in fear of the next thwarted terrorist attack. To live and believe that we are the most powerful country in the world and simultaneously feel so vulnerable is a mental gymnastics performance that would make Orwell blush.

With all of the shouting in the public square about the constitution and the paranoia some Americans fear over “big government,” how can our elected leaders even begin to fathom, let alone propose and support such draconian and downright dictatorial powers? Yet, millions of Americans justified the PATRIOT ACT when legislators jumped at the chance to sign the bill without reading it.

Even though there is hopeful popular and political resistance to Arizona’s immigration bill, millions of Americans support that as well. Now in the face of this “vulnerable world,” we’re supposed to quietly and lovingly accept big brother’s biometric seal of approval and God given right to take it away in secret, without presenting a burden of proof.

Read the full post at Diatribe Media

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  • tonyviner

    “Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security” – Benjamin Franklin

    • tonyviner

      “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Benjamin Franklin

  • dumbsaint

    China has an troop count twice that of the US. Not to add to the fear mongering or anything. You do spend 600 billion on military to China's 85 if it makes you feel better.

    • Anon

      They have a quality a quarter of ours though- We saw that in Korea, when we ran out of bullets before they ran out of fodder.

  • 5by5

    What we lack is a leader who looks at our situation and says something like the following:

    “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – F.D.R.

    Or the cajones to look at the financial crisis and say:

    “It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property…. The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor — these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small-businessmen, the investments set aside for old age — other people's money — these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in. Those who tilled the soil no longer reaped the rewards which were their right. The small measure of their gains was decreed by men in distant cities. Throughout the nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became PRIVILEGED enterprise, not free enterprise….

    The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power….

    Our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered, because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.

    Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

    True, they have tried. But their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers.

    They have no vision, and when there is no vision, the people perish.

    Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.” – F.D.R.

    And then ACTS to change it. Republicans are correct about one thing, and one thing only: speeches are not enough.

    But what is also true is that they set the tone for the action to follow. Unfortunately, despite all the panicky blithering on the Wrongwing, Obama really ISN'T forcing any strong changes on anyone. He's rather proving to be an overly cautious incrementalist in a time when we need a courageous revolutionary.

    Part of that is because he's surrounded by colossal corporatist weenies like Rahm Emmanuel, but part of it is him placing the myth of bipartisanship as an end, rather than a means to an end (if you can afford it). And right now, we simply don't have the time to wait for the Republicans to enter the 21st Century with the rest of us.

    The other problem is that “the money changers HAVEN'T fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.” Indeed, they haven't even been asked to leave, much less forced out through a swift kick to their backsides.

    And these unaddressed economic concerns simply serve to distract us and exacerbate out personal fears, while still more self-serving jerks like those mentioned in the posted article above take away our rights in the name of security. Those who seek to control are ever-busy, and it's hard to be vigilant while you're worried about getting tossed onto the streets.

    • honu

      well said 5by5

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      a modern masterpiece :-) all too true.

    • Tuna Ghost

      To be fair, FDR was a once in a century (if that) kind of leader in American politics. We may not see a guy of his caliber for quite a while.

  • dumbsaint

    China has an troop count twice that of the US. Not to add to the fear mongering or anything. You do spend 600 billion on military to China's 85 if it makes you feel better.

  • 5by5

    What we lack is a leader who looks at our situation and says something like the following:

    “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – F.D.R.

    Or the cajones to look at the financial crisis and say:

    “It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property…. The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor — these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small-businessmen, the investments set aside for old age — other people's money — these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in. Those who tilled the soil no longer reaped the rewards which were their right. The small measure of their gains was decreed by men in distant cities. Throughout the nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became PRIVILEGED enterprise, not free enterprise….

    The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power….

    Our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered, because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.

    Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

    True, they have tried. But their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers.

    They have no vision, and when there is no vision, the people perish.

    Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.” – F.D.R.

    And then ACTS to change it. Republicans are correct about one thing, and one thing only: speeches are not enough.

    But what is also true is that they set the tone for the action to follow. Unfortunately, despite all the panicky blithering on the Wrongwing, Obama really ISN'T forcing any strong changes on anyone. He's rather proving to be an overly cautious incrementalist in a time when we need a courageous revolutionary.

    Part of that is because he's surrounded by colossal corporatist weenies like Rahm Emmanuel, but part of it is him placing the myth of bipartisanship as an end, rather than a means to an end (if you can afford it). And right now, we simply don't have the time to wait for the Republicans to enter the 21st Century with the rest of us.

    The other problem is that “the money changers HAVEN'T fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.” Indeed, they haven't even been asked to leave, much less forced out through a swift kick to their backsides.

    And these unaddressed economic concerns simply serve to distract us and exacerbate out personal fears, while still more self-serving jerks like those mentioned in the posted article above take away our rights in the name of security. Those who seek to control are ever-busy, and it's hard to be vigilant while you're worried about getting tossed onto the streets.

  • E.B. Wolf

    This is the ultimate result of the 9/11 attacks. Whoever you believe was responsible, the collapse of the towers represented the symbolic crumbling of the collective spine of the American citizenry.

    Whenever they finish rebuilding on the sight, the structure should be painted bright yellow.

    • Spooky

      They won't, it's too powerful of a symbol. By all rights a new structure should be standing there now, nothing fancy, not a monument, a center of business. Admittedly with the structure and safety precautions upgraded, but you know, something that will be functional. As it stands its too easy for them to point at it whenever we get uppity to smack us down again, the only difference is that where once the terrorists were in the planes they are now in the government, playing on our insecurities for profit.

      • E.B. Wolf

        Ain't it the sad truth.

  • Hadrian999

    the state of fearfulness is why I despise a vast majority of my countrymen.
    it sickens me, what would people such as we have today done in response
    to the black plague or the Huns, or mongols, bad things have always happened,
    will always happen but today's western man has lost his will and has become livestock
    when he should be a lion.

  • pb

    Speak for yourself. I don't go around wringing my hands in terror of imaginary death slamming into me at any moment. I leave that to the conservatives and beckophiles.

  • http://cybercasualty.com The JoeBot

    In so many American cities, you never see kids playing outside anymore. There is a tense suspicion between adults. The sense of security produced by familiarity and orientation is dissolving as we disperse geographically. Who even knows their neighbors anymore?

    People are surely justified in being afraid in a world of strangers. But the defense of the nation—as evidenced by the Times Square street vendor or the citizens who restrained the Detroit-bound bomber—is frequently up to us. Those who would rely on an overbearing government for a security blanket show their own sense of impotence.

    Neighborhood Watchers may be busy-bodies, but they often beat the police to the rescue.
    Gun rights advocates may suffer from a Rambo Complex oftentimes, but I suspect that the only barrier between middle-class homeowners and the looting hordes is an armed populace—at least in my neck of the woods.
    300 million watchful eyes are more valuable than 300 million cameras.
    Nieghborhood associations, citizen action groups, public martial arts instruction, weapons training courses, listserve crimebeats—and yes, even that guy who stands on his front porch watching you like a hawk as you haul your groceries inside—are signs of an American populace that is prepared to take responsibility for its own well-being.

    The inevitable abuse of power by security agents (local and federal police, TSA employees, etc.) unconstitutional search and seizure policies, perpetual electronic surveillance, and the biometric realization of fundamentalist fantasies are a direct result of the knock-kneed sector of our society cuddling up to their big brother.

    There is only one alternative to jelly-spined dependency upon a draconian government: Come together with your community, and learn to take care of yourselves in every possible way.

  • Spooky

    They won't, it's too powerful of a symbol. By all rights a new structure should be standing there now, nothing fancy, not a monument, a center of business. Admittedly with the structure and safety precautions upgraded, but you know, something that will be functional. As it stands its too easy for them to point at it whenever we get uppity to smack us down again, the only difference is that where once the terrorists were in the planes they are now in the government, playing on our insecurities for profit.

  • Anon

    They have a quality a quarter of ours though- We saw that in Korea, when we ran out of bullets before they ran out of fodder.

  • rolloutthebarrel

    Sadly, I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better…  

  • rolloutthebarrel

    Sadly, I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better…  

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